So after the Franchise game I thought I would feel the same about them but I don't. The day before I was still fretting about even watching them on TV, the fact they exist still bothered me. On the day at Kingsmeadow I said to Sky Sports News* if they just dropped the Dons, that would be the line I wanted drawn, but I am now thinking what the heck keep the Dons, in fact the name thus clearly identifies Milton Keynes as a franchise. Sure I still don't agree with there existence but if we play them again that's going to bother me a lot less.
Of course there was all the spin from Winkelman with some focus on Wimbledon fans having so called abandoning WFC in its time of need, he claims we bought Kingsmeadow rather than buy WFC.(the team then sporting GO:MK Shirts tying to limp to MK ASAP) He omits a lot with this statement but what we do know is Winkelman had the agreement to move WFC to MK and I cannot believe he gave up on the plan and became shocked that we didn't jump to 'save' WFC. Winkelman had been hatching his MK Plan for years, knowing that the potential to move another league club would be now even more than impossible. However some MK fans sure do believe his spin. In fact the MK Supporter Association website has a whole page entitled 'The Facts of the Move' with a timeline from 1991-2007 of documents and bullet points, I could pick holes in this list of dates and documents but there is little point. Although now John Brockwell, the chair of the MK supporters' association, says he naively believed in 2002 they were saving WFC.
As I re-read and caught up on details I have not considered for 10 years. I was wondering why in the build up Winkelman would launch a counter attack against our complaints about having to play a club we feel should not exist and claim Wimbledon fans abandoned WFC and why some MK fans try to convince themselves of this too and that they / he in fact truly 'saved' WFC. I was also struggling to understand as I had come to find recently was why some MK fans would appear to 'hate' us, I know why I do not like how MK came about and do resent the 'team' existing. (not the players or fans).
I could hazard a guess that perhaps the re-telling of this missing bits history is to comfort the few old WFC fans, though I do struggle to understand why any WFC fans actually went to MK. And I can't see why Winkelman would care about a very small group of fans that will never grow.
Or perhaps its a ploy to convince the average MK fan that they (Winkelman) had no choice but to Franchise WFC to try and defuse the sting of removing a club from its community in Wimbledon.
However I do believe a few MK fans perpetuate such myths as they 'hate' Wimbledon fans who have campaigned again how MK came about, enforcing boycotts from other clubs (Our calls to boycott the MK games ended with the 2007 accord) and turning main stream media and the footballing community against them and so fight back by trying to make Wimbledon fans feel guilty, trick other fans, twist events and even try to claim Wimbledon are AFC Kingston and thus are hypocrites, which is wildly missing numerous points. Personally I would have thought the large majority of residents of MK would have in fact understood our frustration at having the club we had in our community for over 100 years taken away. But Winkelman has lied to us and his own fans since the start about the facts behind the move and even he could not reverse that so perhaps he is just trying to keep face.
In fact after watching the ITV game I found it odd to see that the MK team and fans ethos appears to be built around the idea that everyone hates them, it seems a shame for a club to be built on this idea and then use that as driving motivation. Perhaps Winkelman spent years with the Franchise stigma and still wants to fight back. Seems like an odd thing to hang on too. I am sure some may argue maybe its because he believes his version of events.
Either way it is very much the case that Football Franchising is not right and even Winkelman admits that now, although if a lucrative deal came along I am not convinced he would stick to any principles.
If we leave it there well we could just let MK have there club, as currently they will never be accepted and anything of note they create will always be tinged by the fact that in 2002 MK was handed the players and league place of WFC as part of a property deal to get a league football club into MK. MK were waiting for a club that 'needed' them and so Winkelman always considered and still really does think that he 'saved' a club. It should be recognised he was waiting to 'save' any league club. He did however (probably) really did want to set up a club in MK and there was more than a property deal in it for him but either way losing fans from the old entity was always going to be collateral damage. He was fortunate to meet Charles Koppel who cared nothing for the history of WFC or Football, much like Winkelman (although he also claims to be reformed on that front).
All Winkelman really 'saved' was a league position. The community of Wimbledon lost a lot more. Lets not start big club, small club nonsense! This is my biggest issue and is something I would have thought even the hardcore of MK fans must recognise is that everything they as football fans now hold dear in their local area, the youth set up, their jobs, the opportunities for young people, was all taken and was never going to (no matter what anyone says) remain in South London. AFC Wimbledon did indeed save that. Some MK fans might argue that Fulham would have taken on things such as the football in the community scheme (which they almost did) and that would have been plenty to support football in South London. I don't agree and why should I. I was never going to watch football in MK, or follow Fulham, I would have rather seen WFC liquidated, die, not be reincarnated in MK (or Dublin, yes we were against that too you know!). If a football club is a badly run business then there is a lot more than a bottom line at stake and you can't just up root it to a more lucrative area.
On May 28th 2002 I gave up on football and wondered what I would do with my Saturday afternoons. What changed that was the realisation that a football club could be run in a different way. Some MK fans call Wimbledon a pub team, well I don't want my club to be a 'business', I want it to be more, much more. (although pub teams don't play in League 2) I don't want to be a customer, I'm a fan, a share holder. Sure I don't want Wimbledon to be relegated but if we did, it would make no difference to me, when you have a well run club that plays within its means being relegated is not a complete disaster you just have to cut your cloth accordingly, I loved going to non league games in the combined counties league as much as I loved watching WFC play premiership football. Some other football fans still find that hard to comprehend. Relegation however would slow down the move back to the borough of Merton, which would be frustrating.
Yes Wimbledon lost on Sunday but as most including myself prior to the game felt we would, the result did not and never mattered to Wimbledon fans. The team did us all proud, did Wimbledon proud and I sure was screaming like a lunatic in the back bar at Kingsmeadow when Midson equalised.
So I guess I now feel able to move on and if we end up in the same league as MK I will watch them at Kingsmeadow however Ill continue to remind those fans they are a Franchise.
If Winkelman wants a football frenzy (he predicted) and if MK fans want to / should move on then those who truly want football in MK they can be proud of they should in fact make a plea to Winkelman to not only drop the Dons, but look for a positive message and a way forward to build bridges with the wider football community, we can't turn back the clock and sure some fans of Wimbledon will never forgive never forget.
I dont expect many true MK fans will read this and I expect the rest will see this a more AFC propaganda. But I needed to put pen to paper.
Unfortunately based on what I've read in the MK forum pages and based on Winkelman's comments in the build up I fear that with him as Chairman and this ongoing attempt to defend the existence of MK by attacking Wimbledon, MK will never do as Winkelman suggested and be able to 'make there own history'.
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*if anyone can locate said interview would be great